SHOULD AFC Wimbledon score at the Emirates on Wednesday night, chances are it will be from a set piece.
The Dons travel to North London to face Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in the Carabao Cup third round.
And although they’re sitting just outside the playoff positions in League One, they will certainly pose a threat to the Gunners.
This season, AFC Wimbledon have scored an incredible nine goals from set pieces – more than any other club across the four tiers of professional football in England.
Then man responsible for the sudden surge in goals is Restarts Coach Andy Parslow, who is responsible for finessing throw-ins, free-kicks and corners, for and against.
Already, defender Will Nightingale has four goals from set pieces – one more than he managed in his past six years.
But it’s Parslow who deserves the credit. He joined the club in 2019 and began working with the academy.
Soon after Mark Robinson was appointed as caretaker manager in January, he was promoted as a first team coach.
“Every time the ball goes dead, that’s when I’m getting to work – throw ins, free kicks, corners, kick offs. I want to start looking at goal kicks as well,” Parslow told AFC Wimbledon TV back in March.
“It’s for and against, the attacking and defensive side of it. It’s just about marginal gains. I looked at things last summer and the average conversion rate for corners was just under 2.5%, which was next to nothing.
“The best team in the League last season were Rotherham, who scored 12 goals from their corners, meaning they were up at 5%.
“If we can make a 2 or 3% difference, three, four or five more goals from corners, it turns draws into wins, losses into draws. It’s taking care of the small details and doing everything I can to try and help us be as best as we can be.”
Parslow, who was inspired by Liverpool’s throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark, has been buoyed by how open the players were to his role.
“They’ve been really receptive to all the ideas,” he said.
“I think there’s been quite a cultural shift. It’s not just a case of me coming to the players with an idea – ‘this is what we’re going to do’ – some of the players have been texting me, saying, ‘have you seen this corner, have you seen this routine?’
“It’s more of a two-way communication and ownership from the players. It shows they’re thinking about it. They’re not just taking on information, they’re being proactive.”
And they could be even more proactive by putting their work to practice in North London tonight.